After hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, there are finally encouraging results in the decades-long quest to protect wombats from sarcoptic mange.
After hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, there are finally encouraging results in the decades-long quest to protect wombats from sarcoptic mange.

Cure for wombat mange on the horizon

ENCOURAGING scientific results have emerged on the decades-long quest to protect wombats from sarcoptic mange.

UTAS has enlisted five students to conduct field research and drug trials with the hope of discovering how and where the skin and hair disease spreads.

Senior wildlife and ecology UTAS lecturer Scott Carver said tests involving the insecticide Bravecto on wombats at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary showed the drug could cure mange and was safe to administer every one to three months.

Co-head keeper Monique Spaulding with 6 month old wombat Lenny. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Co-head keeper Monique Spaulding with 6 month old wombat Lenny. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

"[It] can make a real difference for our ability to manage this disease for individual wombats," he said.

"We're just about to launch into field trials to demonstrate that we can use it effectively in the field."

Mr Carver said recorded data on mange and other similar diseases spanned back to convicts and early explorers' dogs arriving in Tasmania with scabies and mites.

Mange
Mange

He said research was continuing into why wombats in some areas of Tasmania were more prone to mange, including Narawntapu National Park in the state's North, which hosted an outbreak in 2006.

The lecturer said researchers were also unearthing clues into how the mange mites are spread.

"We think that it's transmitted between wombats down in burrows," he said.

He said the relatively solitary animals moved into new burrows every four to seven days, with early research indicating the environmental conditions and grouping of animals underground assisted in spreading the disease.

Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett talking about a recent trial looking at ways to deal with the problem of mange in wombats. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett talking about a recent trial looking at ways to deal with the problem of mange in wombats. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

Despite concerns surrounding the disease's impact on the populatio n, data from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment showed a "significant increase" in wombat numbers from 1985 to 2019.

Populations suffered in the west Tamar area from 2009 to 2019, but the broader population has stabilised within the same period.

Field trials of Bravecto and other studies are expected to begin later this year.

The state government has contributed $10,000 annually for the three year research period, while $100,000 was injected into monitoring and treating wombat mange in 2017.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Guy Barnett said UTAS had made "very positive progress" on the issue.

 

For more information on managing and reporting mange in wombats head to DPIPWE's website.

 

annie.mccann@news.com.au

 

 

Originally published as Cure for wombat mange on the horizon



Saturday shaping up for explosive weather in Gympie region

Premium Content Saturday shaping up for explosive weather in Gympie region

Voters are advised to get to the polling booth early as severe storms are set to...

Aerial photos reveal staggering spread of illegal campfire

Premium Content Aerial photos reveal staggering spread of illegal campfire

The blaze was caused by an illegal campfire on Fraser Island

Helpless toddler among 52 files on pedo’s computer

Premium Content Helpless toddler among 52 files on pedo’s computer

Paul Max McLaren Grewar, 21, walks free from court after sentencing